How to Help Haiti

Thousands may be dead after massive earthquakes struck Haiti yesterday, and even more injured. The country is devastated. There are several organizations that are geared up to help. A few options:

-You can text ‘HAITI’ to ‘90999’ and a donation of $10 will be given automatically to the Red Cross to help with relief efforts, charged to your cell phone bill (through the U.S. State Department).
-Give directly to the State Department.
-Donate at Wyclef Jean’s Yele, or text ‘YELE’ to ‘501501’ and a donation will be made and charged to your cell phone bill.
-Donate to any of the following organizations that have Haiti-specific pages on their websites:


I do not have first-hand experience with most of the charities listed above, so I can’t vouch for all them. MSNBC lists even more.

If you have family members in Haiti and are trying to see if they are ok, call 1-888-407-4747.

If you can’t give money, do something else — spread the word, ask others to donate, keep Haiti on the tip of everyone’s tongues. Write. Talk. Pray if it’s your thing, or send good wishes. Any other suggestions or ideas?

12 comments for “How to Help Haiti

  1. HolyCrapitsKate
    January 13, 2010 at 11:11 am

    I want to do the text donation but am a bit worried about the security of it – is there a site for contact info/more info through any of the major cell carriers?

  2. HolyCrapitsKate
    January 13, 2010 at 11:15 am

    The White House site has the same number, for anyone else who’s paranoid about this stuff! :)

  3. Niki
    January 13, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    Will texting work outside of the USA?

  4. Emily
    January 13, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    Hi. I work at the American Red Cross (National Headquarters). I’m finding out about the texting outside the United States and will let you know.

    The short code to text IS legit –

    The blog linked to it.

  5. January 13, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    Yet another charity, which I just opted for myself, is Partners In Health. This is my first interaction with them — I found them through a glowing recommendation by abby jean — but they have been apparently doing health care work in Haiti for a couple decades now, so they struck me as a good option. You can give to them here.

  6. NomadiCat
    January 13, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    Hi there. Long time lurker, first time poster. Jumping in now because the nonprofit I work for is affiliated with a great organization that I know is already on the ground there.

    Shelterbox is an international disaster relief organization that puts together “boxes” (gigantic, really durable plastic totes) that include a tent, blankets, tool boxes, camp stoves, blankets, stuff for kids, pots pans and utensils, and other stuff like malaria nets or sanitation equipment specific to the needs of the area.

    To learn more about them or donate, check them out here:

    I’m a little chagrined that my first post here is a sales pitch, but they really are a great (and my favorite part, practical) organization if you’re looking for a group that’s already there and helping.

  7. thesciencegirl
    January 13, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    stopping by to second the suggestion of PIH. They already have medical staff on the ground, as they’ve been running clinics in the area for 20 years. And they need support to provide much-needed medical care.

    Also, npr has a list they’ve been updating:

  8. Frowner
    January 13, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    It”s very, very helpful to see these specific recommendations for smaller projects. I’m especially eager to see those–and any projects run by Caribbean people, especially Haitians.

    It seems to horrible to have to say it, but these huge outpourings of aid only at the time of disaster seem to risk either overwhelming well-meaning groups or getting wasted, misdirected, embezzled by politicians, used to promote undemocratic political projects, etc. This seems to have happened to some of the 2008 storm relief; it sure happened to a lot of aid directed to Ethiopia in the eighties and apparently to New Orleans.

    The coverage at Democracy Now seems good. This is a rather sobering quote from a Haitian journalist about aid (he also recommends the Haitian Emergency Relief Fund):

    “KIM IVES: Well, yes, aid has historically in Haiti been extremely pernicious. It has destroyed Haitian agriculture. It’s been a real counter to development in the country, development aid. And even humanitarian aid has been often wasted. For instance, during—after the storms of 2008, $197 million was freed from the Petrocaribe accounts, which Venezuela provided Haiti. A lot of questions remain about how that money, that $197 million, was spent. A lot of it seems to have been frittered away into corruption and various other types of embezzlement.

    So, yes, there’s going to be a tremendous amount of corruption and charlatans flocking to Haiti like flies. And it’s important to find good relief agencies. One is the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund, HERF, that people can go to the site of and find out more about that. And that is a place people can donate. But, yes, we can expect terrible things to be happening in the aid front in the coming weeks. ”

    I am myself wary of some of these big US-based all-purpose charities (even though I know good people work for them) just as I am wary of USAID and UN involvement in Haiti–these big, well-capitalized organizations are generally pretty tied in to US political purposes, which have not done Haiti much good so far.

  9. BC Holmes
    January 13, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    I second the recommendation for Partners in Health. In my opinion, they have the longest positive record of medical services in Haiti. In the days after the September, 2008 hurricanes, PIH were one of the first organizations on the scene in Gonayiv and surrounding areas.

    Donation link

  10. January 13, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    yay for the PIH recommendations – i really admire them and their work in general and have no doubt they’re doing everything they can to assist with disaster.

    my other suggestions:
    1) Get ready for a long haul. Usually, disasters like this see a huge outpouring of cash and interest in the immediate aftermath, which almost all disappears within the first 6-12 months. This disaster was large enough that it is going to take years, if not decades, to rebuild. The most important thing you can do moving forward is to keep thinking, writing, and talking about Haiti as we move past the immediate impact. They will need help and resources for quite a while to come.

    2) Get interested in global poverty issues. This earthquake was so destructive in large part because of the extreme poverty in pre-earthquake Haiti, which meant that buildings weren’t reinforced, disaster preparation wasn’t done, and the barely adequate medical system was completely overwhelmed. These are situations that exist in lots of other countries that could be affected by disaster – we can do work NOW to make sure they’re better equipped to survive such an event.

    3) Learn about US political involvement in Haiti and policies toward Haiti. We’ve been – for lack of a better term – fucking around in their country since it became independent and have occupied it for significant lengths of time. We’ve trained their dictators, influenced their elections, and encouraged some of their destructive policies. Some of this is on our head as a nation. We bear responsibility. Learn about it, talk about it.

  11. January 14, 2010 at 10:46 am

    Doctors without Borders is a good group, and they already had people on the ground there before the disaster. I can’t imagine donating to them will be a bad thing.

  12. jemand
    January 15, 2010 at 9:43 am


    yes, while the trigger might have been pulled by “the natural world,” this was mainly a tragedy created by human society and our long term priorities. However, it appears that many people will not understand that and will only give to acute disaster– that is not enough, these long term problems should be addressed as well.

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